Sep 012014
 

As promised last week, here’s Part 2 of my recap of DiningOut SD’s 10th Anniversary Party, held at The Headquarters at Seaport District! I started off the evening with drinks and tacos from Puesto, and moved on to the courtyard, where several other restaurants and shops had booths set up with samples.

The first one we came across immediately captured my attention – a table full of desserts from Seasons 52!

Seasons 52 desserts

Seasons 52 desserts

I’ve dined at Seasons 52 once, but didn’t get the desserts. They looked so adorable in the shotglasses!

Ghiradelli Chocolate S'more

Ghiradelli Chocolate S’more

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Mocha Macchiato

Mocha Macchiato

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

Meyer Lemon

Meyer Lemon

J and I decided not to be overly gluttonous, so each of us chose one of the dessert shots. He immediately went for the Red Velvet, which was quite good (although I didn’t like the raspberry). I had a hard time deciding between, well, pretty much everything, but in the end, the toasted meringue atop the Meyer Lemon cake won me over. The lemon cream was smooth, bright, and not overly sweet, and the meringue added a lighter texture to the whole “dessert shot.” I would definitely order this again in a flash!

We moved on to the next table – Venissimo. I love this cheese shop and was excited to try out their samples!

Venissimo owner

Venissimo owner

The owner himself (I didn’t quite catch his name) was manning the station. There were several platters of cheese samples and tartlets!

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England Farmhouse Cheddar, Mini Apples in Calvados

Farmhouse Cheddar (England), Mini Apples in Calvados

loved these mini apples! I think soaking them in Calvados (an apple brandy) intensified the flavor 100 times! The Farmhouse Cheddar paired nicely with the apple. 

Abbaye de Belloc (France), Lychees in Passion Fruit Liquor

Abbaye de Belloc (France), Lychees in Passion Fruit Liquor

We circled back to Venissimo a little bit later, and they had a different cheese for sampling – the Abbaye de Belloc, which is a rich and creamy sheep’s milk cheese. I’m not a fan of lychee, though, so I’m not sure how the pairing was.

I’ve saved the best offerings from Venissimo for last, though… these little mini tarts!

Gorgonzola Dolce with Lavender Confit

Gorgonzola Dolce with Lavender Confit

Bucherondin , Hazelnut-Cacao Nut Butter, Honey-Almond Cherry Jam

Bucherondin , Hazelnut-Cacao Nut Butter, Honey-Almond Cherry Jam

The Gorgonzola dolce one was so good – well, if you’re a fan of stinky cheese. I thought that the pungent cheese was perfectly offset by the lavender confit, and the texture was so luscious and creamy. I totally went back for 2 more of them. The other tartlet was on the sweeter side, made with Bucherondin, which was a mild goat cheese with a brie-like texture. Both of these were really yummy, but oh man, that Gorgonzola. (S is probably feeling really relieved now to have been out of town… he can’t stand stinky cheeses, haha.)

Venissimo selections!

Venissimo selections!

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Aug 292014
 

Recently, I was invited to attend DiningOut San Diego‘s 10th Anniversary celebration party! It sounded like a super fun event, held at The Headquarters at Seaport District. Unfortunately, S was out of town that day, so I brought along my food-loving friend, J. He took a bunch of pictures throughout the event - and they turned out gorgeous (I was too busy eating to pay much attention to pictures…)! He was kind enough to let me use some of them for this post. Thanks, J!

There were so many pictures from this event that I decided to split this recap into two posts. 

The Headquarters at Seaport District

We arrived around 6PM to see all the tables set up and ready in the courtyard.

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There was a VIP hour from 6-7PM, with margaritas and tacos on Puesto’s patio. This post will be mostly about Puesto’s offerings!

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Chips, Ceviche, Salsa

Chips, Ceviche, Salsa

Ceviche

Ceviche

In addition to the salsa and ceviche, there was also some guacamole. I was hoping that it’d be the famous crab guacamole (I know, I’m allergic, but I just wanted a tiny bit to taste!), but it was just the regular, haha. The ceviche was pretty good, not sure which type of fish, but it was bright and flavorful.

There were also margaritas being passed around, so I snagged one…

Margarita

Margarita

The margarita was made with Maestro Dobel tequila, one of the sponsors of the event. It was quite delicious!

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Of course, copies of DiningOut SD were everywhere! I took a copy home to peruse.

There was also an assortment of Puesto’s famed tacos that were being passed around by some awesome servers! I tried several ones, including the Filet Mignon, Zucchini Blossom & Cactus, and Chicken Verde.

Filet Mignon tacos

Filet Mignon tacos

Zucchini Blossom & Cactus tacos

Zucchini Blossom & Cactus tacos

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Aug 252014
 

Santouka is a ramen shop that’s found in pretty much every Mitsuwa Marketplace, including the one in San Diego. (I’ve mentioned this before, but SD’s Mitsuwa is so small compared to the ones in Torrance and Costa Mesa! Sadface. Well, at least we do have Santouka.) I’ve had the ramen here several times already, but never got around to posting about it… so here’s a recap of our latest visit.

Santouka

It’s been a while since S and I have had a ramen craving… I guess there was a period of time last year when we had ramen almost every week, so this was our first ramen in months.

Santouka - Tokusen Toroniku Ramen Combo

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen Combo with Cha-shu Rice Bowl

We decided to share a combination, which is your choice of ramen with a rice bowl. The options for ramen are: Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso (soybean paste), and Tokusen Toroniku (“choice pork”). The options for the rice bowls are: Negi (green onion), Ikura (salmon roe), Natto (fermented soybean), and Cha-shu. We picked the Tokusen Toroniku ramen with Cha-shu rice.

Santouka - Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

Santouka - Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

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Aug 182014
 

Well, I recently found out that one of my good friends is semi-obsessed with chicken wings… as in, she’d eat them everyday for lunch if she could (or something like that, haha). So, after discovering this, we decided to go to Dirty Birds in Pacific Beach sometime. Actually, she was with me on my first visit to Dirty Birds, which left me with generally favorable impressions.

Dirty Birds

We decided on a late Tuesday night dinner, after an evening of badminton/exercise, with hopes that it wouldn’t be super crowded by 10PM. Unfortunately, the place was still quite busy – I guess the Tuesday all-day happy hour (half price wings and domestic pitchers) is too good of a deal for lots of people.

Dirty Birds

We ended up waiting about 20 minutes and snagged a row of seats by the window counter before we could get an actual table. There were four of us, which made conversation somewhat awkward – especially considering that the place was pretty loud.

No one was interested in a domestic pitcher (as in, Coors Light), but my 3 dining companions all ordered a draft to drink…

Dirty Birds

I can’t remember what the dark beer was, but the one on the right is the Green Flash 30th St, which I really liked. Not pictured is T’s Stella Cidre – I’m not a big fan of ciders, so I guess I wasn’t interested in photographing it… haha.

We ordered an appetizer to share, the loaded tater tots…

Dirty Birds - Loaded Tots with Pulled Pork

Loaded Tots with Pulled Pork [$8]

I also ordered the exact same thing during my last visit – the tater tots are super crispy, and topped with a hard-to-fail combo of cheese, barbecue sauce, and pulled pork (you can also choose sliced steak or diced bacon for the meat). If you love tater tots, this is a must-try here.

For the wings, S, A, and I decided to share twenty pieces, which are normally $22, but since it was Tuesday, cost only $11!

Dirty Birds - Lemon Pepper & Fireball wings

Lemon Pepper & Fireball wings

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Aug 152014
 

Don’t forget to enter my Instagram giveaway! Ends tonight at 11:59PM!

S and I were both craving Indian food one of these past days, and we decided to check out a new place instead of just going to our usual, Punjabi Tandoor (although I’ve been wanting to try some new things there, too!). A friend recently suggested Bawarchi Dosa, so we headed over to try it out.

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It’s located next to an Indian grocery store on Black Mountain Road, near the Miramar Road intersection. The outside looked slightly run-down, but I was optimistic.

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The inside was actually quite clean; if you look closely, the restaurant part is actually located inside of a small mall-like building. I believe there was a large space for group events, and an entrance to the grocery store? (Not so sure about that part.)

Our server was very friendly and made some recommendations for us regarding the menu. We knew that we definitely wanted to try the dosa – it’s a south Indian specialty, a fermented crepe made from rice and black lentils. We also considered sticking to south Indian cuisine tradition and order the vegetarian options, but S wasn’t in the mood for vegetarian (the question is, is he ever?). So, our server recommended that we can order one of their “combos” in the South Indian Non-Veg section.

Bawarchi Dosa - Dosa with Goat Curry

Dosa with Goat Curry [$14.99]

Plain Dosa

Plain Dosa

We chose the combo with plain dosa and goat curry. The dosa was served warm, and it was nice and crispy.

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Aug 082014
 

First up, an announcementI am doing an Instagram giveaway today! Be sure to follow jinxieats for details on how to enter! :) 

It’s been quite a long time since I visited Spicy City, one of the most popular Sichuan restaurants in San Diego. S and I recently went with a couple of friends, and we ordered some dishes that we haven’t tried before – so I thought I’d share them here!

By the way, I didn’t put prices on these dishes because I forgot to save the receipt! There are prices for these dishes on the website, but I think they’re a little outdated. Sorry!

Spicy City - Cold pork sliced with garlic chili sauce

蒜泥白肉 Cold Pork Sliced with Garlic Chili Sauce

This is one of my favorite dishes, and I’m not sure why I’ve never ordered it here before. Thinly sliced pork belly is boiled and chilled, then tossed in a spicy chili oil/sesame oil/soy sauce mix, and topped with minced garlic. The version here is quite good – I liked the sprinkling of sesame seeds to enhance the sesame oil – although I found it too salty towards the end.

Spicy City - Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

紅燒茄子 Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

We really like the eggplant dishes here – To me, the key for cooking with eggplant is frying it first before stir-frying with the rest of the dish’s ingredients, and Spicy City’s eggplants haven’t disappointed me. Although the name of the dish is technically “red-braised eggplant”, it didn’t really taste braised to me and instead just stir-fried with the other vegetables. It was still quite tasty, though.

Spicy City - Mao's Style Pork in Brown Sauce

毛家紅燒肉 Mao’s Style Pork in Brown Sauce

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Aug 042014
 

Recently, S and I were invited to Cafe Coyote to check out their menu offerings. We’ve received an invitation before to sample some of their monthly specials, but this time we just wanted to try some of their regular menu items.

As always, the place was super crowded – it’s definitely a popular spot in Old Town for Mexican food! While waiting in line for the hostess, I snapped a picture of the lady making fresh tortillas:

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I absolutely loved the handmade tortillas here from last time, and it is so fun to watch her make them!

We were seated quickly, and our waitress brought us some chips and salsa:

Complimentary chips & salsa

Complimentary chips & salsa

I enjoyed the chips here, which were served warm. The salsa wasn’t overly impressive to me, though – it was a bit watery.

S and I weren’t sure if the manager or chef wanted to recommend anything to us, but we just went ahead and ordered some things that looked appealing to us from the “Coyote Favorites” section of the (rather extensive) menu.

Carnitas Plate

Carnitas Plate [$12.95]

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Since we’re pork-lovers, we had to try their carnitas. Flavor-wise, it was decent – but I wish that the meat was a little juicier. Maybe I’m just used to the mind-blowing carnitas from Lolita’s, which somehow manages to be juicy and tender, yet with plenty of crispy bits at the same time.

What I do love here, though, are the accompaniments to the plates – all of them are great, but I especially enjoy the tortillas, which are warm and soft and tender, and the refried beans, which are super creamy and smooth, and have amazing flavor. They’re also pretty generous with the guacamole scoop (you can’t tell from the photo, but it’s a pretty decent amount!). 

Steak Ranchero

Steak Ranchero [$13.95]

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Jul 302014
 

I posted about Iceskimo, a summer snow-shaved ice pop-up shop, just a couple of weeks ago, and S and I have already made several revisits because we really loved the snow ice there! 

We visited with a couple of friends so that we can try more flavors… haha. Yes, I will steal your food if it looks good.

Matcha Green Tea

Matcha Green Tea: green tea snow, slow-cooked red bean, mini mochi, condensed milk [$4.75]

My matcha-loving friend gravitated towards this one immediately, and I had a few bites. I liked the snow a lot! The green tea flavor was pretty strong, and the texture was nice and fluffy. As for the toppings, I thought the mini mochi was not bad, but I’m not a fan of red bean so I mostly stayed away from them. There was a good amount of condensed milk to sweeten the snow just the right amount.

Summer Love

Summer Love: original snow, fresh strawberries and mangoes, condensed milk [$4.75]

“Summer Love” refers to the harmony between strawberries and mangoes, both of which are in season in the summer! Another friend chose this one, and I loved the flavor of the original snow (milk flavored). Both of the fruits are quite fresh and sweet, and I liked this one a lot as well. It made me want to try their “seasonal special”, mango snow ice with fresh mangoes. Continue reading »

Jul 282014
 

S and I were recently in Encinitas and decided to check out Kealani’s Cafe for lunch – we’re not too experienced with Hawaiian food (our most frequently-visited place is L&L in UTC… not the greatest). I was pretty excited to try out a new place!

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We arrived right as it opened, 11AM on a Saturday. The place was pretty much empty, with just a couple of other customers.

The whole place had very cute decor, with the booths resembling little straw huts! Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of our booth :(

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One corner of the restaurant was actually a little Hawaiian-themed shop, with clothing and souvenirs. It made me feel like a tourist…

Kalua Pig Plate - Mini [$5.50]

Kalua Pig Plate – Mini [$5.99]

S of course, chose the Kalua Pig plate. The plate lunches come in two sizes, regular and mini. I believe the price difference is about $1.50? Anyway, we weren’t feeling particularly hungry that day, so mini sizes it was for both of us. The pork was quite flavorful – slightly smoky, not overly salty, with hints of sweetness. It was quite juicy and tender, and we liked it a lot! Continue reading »

Jul 252014
 

It’s Boba Time is a milk tea/drinks franchise shop that recently opened up on Convoy, replacing the old Yoshinoya spot. Due to S’s deep and undying love for all things milk tea, we had to go check it out.

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The interior was quite cute – one of the walls was a painted mural, and there were pictures and decorations hanging everywhere.

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There’s also an explanatory banner for those who aren’t familiar with boba!

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